Celebrating 30 Years of Central Arizona Project Water Delivery

 By: Ted Cooke
 Interim General Manager
 Central Arizona Project

Thirty years ago, the first deliveries of Colorado River water began to central  Arizona. Today, CAP is the state’s single largest source of renewable water—  delivering more than one and a half million acre-feet of water (500 billion  gallons) to central and southern Arizona each year. CAP celebrated this  milestone at its June 4 board meeting with at least five former CAP board  presidents in attendance—Howard Wuertz, Grady Gammage, Bill Perry,  Susan Bitter Smith and Pam Pickard, and one, George Renner, remotely. Attendees were treated to a new video (below) that included comments from the Governor’s office, various city mayors and chamber of commerce leaders.

CAP is a critical partner and collaborator with local and regional water resources managers, customers and stakeholders in managing water supplies for Arizonans. Over the past 30 years, CAP has amassed a list of innovations that have established it as a national leader in water planning. These include:

  • Water conservation through a cooperative effort involving several Basin states and the federal government. One result is a pilot program that retains water in the Colorado River system for the benefit of all its users.
  • Reservoir protection for Lake Mead through collaboration amongst CAP, other Lower Basin state water authorities and the federal government to delay the onset of shortages. This includes working toward longer-term solutions for managing and increasing storage in this vital reservoir.
  • Additional investments in water augmentation through cloud seeding, desalination and other efficiency projects.
  • Underground water storage as a form of insurance against future shortfalls.
  • The Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program to support wildlife habitat restoration.

While a shortage may be declared on the Colorado River as early as 2016, Arizona is in a strong position to deal with the challenges due to Arizona’s far-sighted water management and the critical role CAP plays in that water management. CAP continues its commitment to managing and delivering reliable water supplies that will preserve and enhance the state’s economy, environment, quality of life and security, not only for today’s Arizonans but for future generations as well.




The Facts about Arizona’s Water Supplies

By: Pamela Pickard
President, Board of Directors
Central Arizona Project

On June 17, The New York Times published a story under the headline “Arizona Cities Could Face Cutbacks in Water From Colorado River, Officials Say.”  The Times’ story stated that deliveries of Central Arizona Project water to cities such as Phoenix and Tucson could be reduced as early as 2019 and that Arizona was just now considering the prospects of such a shortage. Neither statement is accurate. Here are the facts.

First, CAP shortages are not expected to impact Arizona cities for at least 10 to 15 years.  That is because cities hold the highest priority within the CAP system and so would be among the last to be cut during shortage.  Guidelines adopted by the Secretary of the Interior in 2007 quantify the reductions to the CAP supply at various elevations in Lake Mead.  The maximum reduction to CAP under the 2007 Guidelines is 480,000 acre-feet, which would still leave CAP 1 million acre-feet or more to deliver each year. That is enough to satisfy all CAP municipal demands—and high-priority Indian deliveries—for many years to come (those uses currently total less than 800,000 acre-feet).

Secondly, CAP is likely to experience shortage by 2017, but that shortage will primarily affect central Arizona agriculture, which is already preparing for planned reductions in their CAP supplies.    Cities could see an increase in the cost of CAP water at that time, but their water deliveries will not be reduced.

Finally, Arizona has long been aware that future Colorado River shortages will impact CAP deliveries to cities and other municipal water providers.  That is why the Arizona Water Banking Authority (AWBA) was created in 1995.  For almost two decades now, the AWBA has been storing excess Colorado River water in underground aquifers to provide a backup supply that can be called upon when CAP deliveries to Arizona cities are reduced.  To date, AWBA has stored more than 3 million acre-feet in central Arizona for just that purpose.  And over the past several years, CAP and other Arizona interests have developed plans to recover that stored water.

Arizona has been planning for future CAP shortages for decades and is well prepared to deal with that eventuality.  Arizona is also working with the other Colorado River Basin States and the federal government to improve the reliability and sustainability of this vital water supply in the face of ongoing drought.

ASU Report Quantifies CAP’s $1 Trillion Impact on Arizona’s Economy

By: Ted Cooke
Assistant General Manager, Finance and Information Technologies
Central Arizona Project

How many zeroes are in a trillion? Twelve! You don’t see it written out very often, but Central Arizona Project’s (CAP) delivery of Colorado River water from 1986 through 2010 has generated in excess of $1 trillion—that’s $1,090,000,000,000—of Arizona’s gross state product (GSP). This astounding number was verified by a study recently commissioned by CAP with the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Simply put, Arizona would be entirely different if CAP’s 336-mile-long canal system was never constructed nearly 40 years ago. By delivering at least 1.5 million acre-feet (almost 500 billion gallons) of Colorado River water every year, CAP has dramatically and positively changed the economic and environmental landscape of our state.

To answer the question — “What if CAP was never built and no CAP water was delivered?” — researchers at ASU’s L. William Seidman Research Institute prepared a baseline scenario of Arizona’s annual economy as it has evolved with CAP water deliveries. A “no-CAP” scenario was produced for the same time period with water supplies reduced by the amount delivered each year by CAP. The differences between the scenarios represent the annual and cumulative impacts of CAP water deliveries on Arizona GSP and employment.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • CAP’s supply of water to municipal industrial and agricultural customers in 2010 is estimated to have generated annual employment of more than 1.6 million jobs;
  • Government, healthcare, retail, real estate and travel sectors would have lost more than 60 percent of these jobs had the CAP water supply been unavailable;
  • If the recreational benefits and other impacts associated with the operation and maintenance of the aqueduct system and Lake Pleasant are added to the water supply analysis, statewide economic impacts of the operation of CAP would be even greater.

The results were reported at the Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s “Future of Arizona Water” educational forum held on April 30, 2014.


By: Ed Hadley
President – Southwest Region, Walton Development and Management 

New jobs. International trade. Business expansion. Population growth. For years, these have been the prizes that lie just beyond our grasp as Arizonans debate the best way to harness the economic development potential of the Sun Corridor between Phoenix and Mexico.

The Arizona Sun Corridor’s location along the east-west trade route between Texas and California, and the north-south CANAMEX international trade route, places it in the enviable position of serving as a distribution gateway for products originating in Mexico and via Gulf Coast ports. The state gains roughly $6 billion annually from business with Mexico, which sounds great, until you stack it up against California’s $40 billion and Texas’ $95 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Government leaders, economic development officials, academics and business people all agree increasing trade, tourism and direct foreign investment from Mexico is one of Arizona’s most important economic opportunities. But, how? When? Slowly, answers are beginning to emerge.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has pledged to double exports to Mexico in five years. His plans include opening Phoenix’s first trade office in Mexico City later this year, holding an international trade summit in May and providing new city services to help companies do business abroad. State legislators also have strengthened ties with Mexico by establishing a bipartisan International Trade and Commerce Committee in the Arizona House.

As the pieces fall into place, improved transportation infrastructure is going to be key to the region’s success. The transportation infrastructure we’re talking about is the responsibility of the local, state and federal levels of government – it runs the gamut from the proposed I-11 to local connections, bridges and more. In order to be successful, all jurisdictions will need to prioritize funding for needed infrastructure, and that is beginning to happen.

Because of the input provided by local communities, the Legislature is moving to restore $120 million in Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF), which comes from fuel taxes and is intended to be a resource for local communities (particularly those outside Maricopa and Pima counties – such as Pinal) to pay for road construction. The Legislature’s proposed budget prioritizes these funds for needed transportation infrastructure in accordance with the requests of cities and counties across the state. It’s a bold move that has bipartisan support in the body.

As Mayor Stanton said in his State of the City address, “…Transit is about more than getting people from Point A to Point B. It’s about inspiring the right kind of development. Transit lines create permanent pathways for moving people that give businesses, retailers and restaurants the confidence they need to make long-term investments.”

Walton Development and Management is encouraged by the efforts we’ve witnessed in the last six months and are hopeful the time is finally right for less talk and more action. In a season of austere state and federal budgets, marshaling the resources to move forward is no easy task. We understand. Change is not without risk. But we can no longer afford to languish in the slow lane while our competitors zoom past us. Now that we’ve created some momentum, let’s put our foot on the gas.

Ed Hadley can be reached at ehadley@waltondevelopment.com

Improper Medical Waste Disposal’s Environmental Impact

By: Russ Haedt
US Bio-Clean Managing Partner 

Medical waste is a serious environmental concern. Unlike municipal waste, waste from medical sources readily harms the environment and poses a threat to people and animals living in it. Medical waste causes toxic, infectious and physical harm, especially if not treated properly. We will examine the environmental consequences of improper medical waste disposal.

Release of Toxins Into the Environment

There are several kinds of toxins found in medical waste. Improper disposal of medical waste releases toxins in the environment where they can harm wildlife and plants in the area. Furthermore, it makes the area unsuitable for human habitat or use.

Some of the most commonly found toxins in medical waste include:

  • Mercury – this heavy metal element is found in old lab instruments including thermometers, sphygmomanometers, and dental amalgams
  • Dioxins – toxins present in most plastics, including PVCs
  • Waste containing chemotherapy substances – medical waste generated from cancer treatment, which tends to contain chemotherapeutic substances.
  • Radioactive substances – used for radiotherapy of cancer and for certain diagnostic procedures
  • Pharmaceutical products – these include discarded unused expired and contaminated drugs, vaccines and serums

In addition, discarded medicines can cause harm when released into the environment. Mercury, chemotherapeutic compounds and dioxins are inherently poisonous. These radioactive substances emit ionizing radiation that causes cancer, undesirable mutations, and reproductive problems (and can for several years depending on the location and depth of contamination). These toxic substances can pollute groundwater and can be transported to other areas through runoff.

Another widely used substance is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. It is frequently used in health care because it is flexible and does not cause allergic reactions. PVC is used in tubing and containers for blood and blood components, ostomy products, and equipment used for specialized procedures. PVC is a persistent environmental pollutant that does not break down easily in normal conditions, causing undesirable changes in soil composition.

Contamination With Infectious Substances

Because medical waste is a by-product of health care, it obviously contains infectious substances. Medical waste often contains body fluids such as blood, blood products, lymph and discharges, as well as anatomic body parts or carcasses of animals used for research. It may also contain contaminated materials such as swabs, used bandages, and disposable medical equipment. It may contain discarded cultures, used culture mediums and stocks of infectious agents. These substances contain pathogenic microorganisms that cause disease.

Take note that infectious substances make up 15% of medical wastes. Improper release of untreated medical waste allows infectious substances to permeate the environment and spread disease to living things in the area.

Risk of Physical Harm

Medical waste may contain sharps, which are regularly used in health care. Some examples of sharps include scalpels, lancets, syringes, and dental wires. Sharps waste is frequently contaminated with blood or body fluids that contain disease-causing microorganisms; sharps may contain microorganisms that cause AIDS and chronic hepatitis. Contact or an injury caused by contaminated sharps can introduce these pathogens into the body and cause disease. Aside from infection, released sharps pose a risk of puncture injuries and cuts to animals and humans. Sharps can easily poke through garbage bags and cause injuries. This is why it is so important to only use specially designed sharps containers for disposal.

Medical waste is an inevitable part of health care. Because of the harm it causes, several laws and guidelines are in force in Arizona to reduce or prevent discharge of untreated medical waste into the environment.

Russ is a managing partner with US Bio-Clean. He is also a Firefighter, Paramedic and Hazardous Materials Technician with the Phoenix Fire Department, where he has proudly served for over 16 years. Russ concurrently serves in a national capacity as a Hazardous Materials Specialist assigned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”), Arizona Task Force 1. Prior to joining the fire service, Russ served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a nuclear, biological and chemical warfare defense specialist. Russ has been involved in the hazardous materials industry as both a first responder and educator since 1988.